New Vytal Chrome extension hides location info that your VPN can't

Trooper

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Aug 28, 2015
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Anyone here care to vet this extension?


A new Google Chrome browser extension called Vytal prevents webpages from using programming APIs to find your geographic location leaked, even when using a VPN.

Many people use VPNs to hide their location or connect from another country while browsing the web. People do this for various reasons, such as bypassing censorship, geographic blocks, or simply having additional privacy on the Internet.

While a VPN will hide the IP address of your device and thus your physical location, it is possible to use JavaScript functions to query information directly from a web browser to find a visitor's general geographic location.

For example, the Intl.DateTimeFormat().resolvedOptions() method can be used to retrieve a website visitor's timezone and the Date().toLocaleString() can be used to return the visitor's local time.

Using this information, a website can determine what country, or at least geographic region, a visitor is from and continue blocking content or track general information about the visitor, even if they are using a VPN.
 
Last edited:

HarborFront

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Quote

"Vytal can Spoof your timezone, locale, geolocation and user agent. This data can be used to track you or reveal your location," explained z0ccc in the HN post.

Unquote

I ran it at Vytal and it doesn't reveal my IP address (due to my VPN). So I'm safe

As for useragent I changed it and it showed my changed useragent. It still didn't reveal my true useragent. So I'm safe

As for spoofing timezone it can affect your updates like AV signature updates, Win OS update etc. So not advisable to spoof the timezone

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Overall, I don't think I need this extension. Nothing in the above pictures revealed my true location and useragent
 

silversurfer

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" Vytal is an open source browser extension for Google Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers, that will spoof the location, locale, timezone and user agent manually or automatically. "

Vytal uses the chrome.debugger API, which the developer believes makes the use of the extension undetectable by websites and will spoof the data during the initial loading of webpages as well as in iframes and web workers.

One of the main ideas behind Vytal was to give VPN users a tool at hand to match location-based identifiers to the VPN's location. Sites may use scripts to find discrepancies between the VPN's location, based on the IP address, and other location data, which the browser may provide.

The Vytal extension is available in the Chrome Web Store. Just visit its profile page there and install it, just like any other Chrome extension. You may check the source code of the extension on GitHub.

Installation adds an icon to Chrome's main toolbar that you may interact with. A click displays the available options and information about the current IP address and region. The profile menu lists dozens of regional profiles that you may apply manually, e.g., to spoof your location, timezone and locale to Houston, Jersusalem, or Bangkok.

You also find an option to match the regional settings to the active IP address; this is what VPN users may want to activate, as it automates the process of matching the VPN server location to the spoofed data of the browser. A custom option is available next to that, to enter data manually into the fields.

There is an option to randomize the data every 60 minutes, or any other period that you set the randomizer to.

Last but not least, you may also set a different user agent, but none appears to be provided, which means that you need to set it manually.

Vytal has two shortcomings that users need to be aware of. Chromium-based browsers display a "started debugging this browser" message at the top when extensions are active that use the debugging API. The notification is displayed at the top in the browser when Vytal is being used.

Chrome and other Chromium-based browsers support the command line switch --silent-debugger-extension-api, which supresses the message in the browser.

The second issue weights more heavily. There is a slight delay between opening a new tab and the start of the debugger. Sites may use this delay to retrieve information before the actual spoofing takes place. Since this is tab-based, users might get around this by loading safe sites in tabs first before loading sites that might detect spoofing this way.

The browser extension is not available for Firefox, as the browser does not support the debugging API according to the developer.
 

robert-smith

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Mar 10, 2022
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i'm unable to install this on Brave 1.39.122, I get the following error:
Something went wrong
There was a problem adding the item to Chrome. Please refresh the page and try again.
show details
ReloadClose
When I try refreshing the page it doesn't work either.
 

HarborFront

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You use a VPN, but websites can find out through multiple datapoints that your IP address is inconsistent with your other browser settings. Also your settings are not changed on OS level, so it does not interfere with updates.

Some websites won't show content because (e.g. BBC.COM) or refuse to proceed (e.g. Viaplay) when they discover these inconsistenties. Inconsistenties are like drawing a large bull's eye on your forehead for websites with advanced tracking mechanisms.
Ok so they find your IP address is inconsistent, so what? Isn't that what a VPN suppose to do and what you want it............to change your IP address?

If the website don't show content because it detected your IP address inconsistency, then don't visit it or use the mentioned extension then. How often do you encounter such situation?